Curveball
  Curveball  

"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."
- Mark Twain

"Anyone who combines politics and baseball is an idiot, because everyone knows that ping-pong is the greatest sport. Oh, and I'm really a Communist who hates NASCAR and listens to Joan Baez in the dark.
-- Glenn Reynolds

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Andre Vladimir Sebastian is a figment of your imagination. Honestly, you really could have done better than him, now couldn't you? Next time, put a little effort into it.

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72 Virgins Dating Service
Another of the many, many reason to love the United States Army is this T-shirt.

  posted by AVS @ 12.9.03


12.9.03  

 
Howard Dean maintains his solid lead over John Kerry in New Hampshire, 38 percent to 26 percent, according to the latest Boston Globe poll.

  posted by AVS @ 12.9.03



 
Johnny Cash, R.I.P.
The Man In Black is gone. And I never got to see him in concert. Damn.

Cash needs no euology, just as he needed no introduction. There simply never was a musician like him. That voice. Those great songs. He was THE giant of country music. No one even came close to touching his stature.

One thing I loved about Johnny Cash was his contrarianism. Asked why he wore black, he said it started at the Grand Ole Opry:

Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkle clothes and cowboy boots. I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see if I could get by with it. I did and I've worn black clothes ever since.

Nowadays male country music stars wear black to fit in. And they all look like goobers compared to Johnny Cash.


  posted by AVS @ 12.9.03



 
John Ritter, R.I.P.
John Ritter died yesterday at age 54. A lot of people will yawn at this, especially people who don't remember Three's Company. But Ritter was a great actor. To see how remarkable a talent he was, one has only to watch two films: Noises Off and Sling Blade.

How lame is the Los Angeles Times? Ritter died yesterday, and there is no mention of it this morning on the Times Web site.

  posted by AVS @ 12.9.03



 
Two 9/11 Editorials Worth Reading In Full
I've spent a lot of the day reading newspaper editorials about Sept. 11. Some, like The New York Times and The Concord Monitor, are infuriating in their willful disregard for reality. Others are so rousingly good that they deserve longer consideration. Following are two editorials that are worthy of the few minutes it will take you to read them.

The Union Leader: Resolved to win

TODAY MARKS the second anniversary of al-Qaida’s second attack on the World Trade Center towers. And this year marks the tenth anniversary of the first attack. As we spend this day remembering those who lost their lives in New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania on 9-11, we ought to pause as well to remember the earlier victims in the jihad against America and to consider all that has been accomplished in the still very young war on terror.

On Feb. 26, 1993, six people were killed when a small group of radical Islamists with al-Qaida connections bombed the World Trade Center. The explosion left a crater that extended five stories into the earth. The perpetrators proclaimed that they bombed the towers in the name of Allah.

In 1996, a group of 14 radical Islamists connected to al-Qaida killed 19 American service personnel at the Khobar Towers military housing complex outside Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. All 14 were identified as members of Hezbollah, and former Defense Secretary William Perry said there was evidence linking the group to the Iranian government.

On Aug. 7, 1998, members of al-Qaida bombed the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, killing 231 people. One of the convicted bombers was a former personal secretary to Osama bin Laden and a naturalized American citizen.

On Oct. 12, 2000, radical Islamists with ties to al Qaida attacked the U.S.S. Cole while it was refueling in a port in Yemen, killing 17 American sailors. This year two suspects were indicted, while up to 15 others believed to have helped plot and carry out the attacks remain at large.

On Sept. 11, 2001, members of al-Qaida murdered 3,016 people (by the latest count) in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field.

The war on terror may have begun on Sept. 18, 2001, when President Bush signed the bill authorizing the use of American military force against terrorists. But the radical Islamist jihad against America began long before that, and it will continue until the war is won.

“Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle,” President Bush said in his radio address of Sept. 15, 2001, “but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.”

He said that the war would be long, but “we are determined to see this conflict through.” As long as that last phrase remains true, America is sure to win the war on terror. But it has been only two years, and already some are wavering.

There are still people who claim, as Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich did yesterday, that the President took the nation to war because he thought it would help Republicans win elections. There are others, on the left and the right, who believe that peace and security can be found in retreating from the world scene and isolating America from the rest of the planet. And there are those who think that the best course is to hand over our national sovereignty to the United Nations and let it sort out the world’s problems through diplomatic means, as if terrorists were rational people longing for peace.

Winning this conflict will require that we maintain our resolve and our sense of purpose. We must not let the relative safety afforded by our recent victories lull us into a false sense of security. Osama bin Laden is still at large, and his goons and thugs continue to plot sinister ways to hurt us. We have won a few battles, but the war is far from over. Al-Qaida remains determined to fight. Do you?




The New York Post: The Resilience of a Nation


The bill for 9/11 has yet to fully be paid.

But the architects of the cowardly attack - emboldened by years of American denial and lassitude - discovered the folly of waking a sleeping giant.

Today those men are dead, on the run or in hiding; their patrons are in disarray - and the world, while still turbulent and threatening, is safer for their folly.

One small step for humankind, as it were.

Certainly there has been no further domestic terror.

And New York City, for all its woes, has picked itself up and gotten on with life.

Washington was also grievously wounded two years ago.

Today, it's hard to tell where the airplane hit the Pentagon.

More to the point, President Bush is directing the War on Terror from the White House - symbol of all that the terrorists fear and hate, and itself a likely target two years ago.

In Afghanistan, U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban and demolished al Qaeda's base - killing or capturing hundreds of terrorists and choking off critical funding channels.

The fighting continues, but it is peripheral and of scant strategic consequence.

What's important is that al Qaeda had hoped to spark Islamist revolution - throughout the Mideast, and globally. Instead, it lost its base and the critical sponsorship of a nation-state.

And now it and related terrorist organizations - in Pakistan and Indonesia and in the Philippines - are reeling.

Yes, they're still dangerous, but they're also very much on the defensive.

Iraq too is vexed by intermittent guerrilla attacks following a brilliant - and humane - war to oust Saddam Hussein.

And to reshape the region's political and strategic geography.

Saddam is gone, if not captured, and order is returning to Iraq. Significantly, the Arab League just recognized the legitimacy of Iraq's Governing Council, while negotiations are under way to internationalize the military presence there.

And despite the seeming turmoil in the Mideast, the prospects for peace there are the best they've been in decades.

Just last week, the European Union proscribed Hamas - a stunning development in its own right; as a consequence, the terrorists have never been so isolated.

And now, it seems, a clock is ticking on Yasser Arafat.

There are no guarantees; great spasms of violence may yet be ahead - but there is hope for real peace.

And it is the War on Terror that is making the difference.

Meanwhile, at Ground Zero, renewal is well under way.

This summer, ground will be broken on the 1,776-foot "Freedom Tower." Seven World Trade Center, which stood near the Twin Towers, is already being rebuilt. In about two months, PATH service to downtown will resume.

All of this is a testament to the resilience of a great city, and a great nation.

Not everything has gone perfectly; how could it? There was so much to be done.

At home, rebuilding efforts endured months of needless delay, largely because of the gubernatorial election - and New Yorkers' legendary deference to paralyzing parochial interests.

Similarly, as the presidential campaign proceeds, doubt seems to be creeping into the debate over the war against terrorism.

Democrats - particularly, but not exclusively - niggle over Bush's War on Terror.

Sometimes their rhetoric is shameful. But this is a debate worth having, because the stakes are so great and because the national consensus forged in tragedy two years ago this morning must be maintained.

As it proceeds, Americans need to keep in mind that their nation is fighting for its life - and their freedoms.

Much of Islam, with its billion-plus adherents, and even many in the West - in countries like France and Germany - despise America, its freedoms, and particularly its success.

They hope for nothing less than America's humiliation.

So the war must be not only worldwide in scope, but thorough as well. Americans must be prepared to sacrifice - sending troops and treasure wherever needed.

"The enemy is wounded, but still resourceful and actively recruiting and still dangerous," said President Bush yesterday. "We cannot afford . . . complacency."

Not two years ago; certainly not today.

Meanwhile, take a moment to take pride, America.

You've earned it.


  posted by AVS @ 11.9.03


11.9.03  

 
9/11 Editorial Roundup
What some American newspapers are saying about Sept. 11 two years later:

The New York Times has a typically infuriating navel-gazer that really misses the whole point of the war on terror. In writing about the successful removal of Saddam Hussein from power, the Times lectures: It is worth reminding ourselves, on this day particularly, that we come no closer to understanding the significance of 9/11, at home and abroad, if we use the memory of what happened that morning falsely and vainly. No, you come no closer to understanding the significance of 9/11 because you are a bunch of myopic fools.

The Washington Post has a very nice lead edit reflecting on the broader war between the United States and terrorists. The Post's editorial board, as silly as it sometimes is, this time gets it.

The Boston Globe, on the other hand, does not get it, and even admits it: Are we healing? Are we tired? Are we still good and scared? As usual, there are no definitive answers because just about everything connected with 9/11 remains a question mark.

The Chicago Sun-Times also gets it: We, too, are a nation besieged. Though we do not face the daily peril faced in Israel, we face peril just the same, from a patient enemy. Al-Qaida waited eight years between its first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the second, far-deadlier assault.

Make peace with the past, by all means, but do not become complacent about it. How can we wonder why the dim warning signs of 9/11 were missed when, as a nation, we have barely changed our behavior since?


USA Today oddly focuses its lead editorial only on airline safety, warning that we have a long way to go before the nation's airlines are protected: But the cost of ignoring gaping holes in air security is far greater than the multibillion-dollar bill to close them. The health of the airline industry, the safety of the flying public and the nation's sense of security depend on preventing another disastrous attack in the skies.

The Miami Herald says GET BIN LADEN! Today will bring still more fitting tributes to the many heroes of 9/11. But, in a greater sense, there can be no closure -- there can be no moving on -- until Osama bin Laden and all his henchmen are brought to justice. The failure to find him up to now is not so much a measure of the adequacy of U.S. intelligence as it is a measure of the insidious and menacing nature of the terrorist enemy.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution begins with the stupidest question any editorial board has ever asked: Every day, thousands of Americans die of preventable causes such as murder, traffic accidents, domestic violence and smoking-related diseases. So why did the deaths of 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001, have such an effect on our national psyche? It goes on to argue for more federal spending.

The Christian Science Monitor doesn't say much of anything except it's nice that Americans debate such things as civil liberties and security.

The Houston Chronicle has a pretty vapid post, not even worth quoting.

The Indianapolis Star says Americans have proved resilient in the aftermath of attacks meant to cripple the nation.

The Kansas City Star blames the Bush administration's imaginary reluctance to build international alliances for the fact that Saddam and Osama haven't been caught yet.

It's taking too long to stabilize and rebuild both Afghanistan and Iraq. As each day passes, it seems increasingly clear that the Bush administration failed to adequately prepare for the challenges the United States would face — and that the president should have worked more closely with our most reliable allies.

Some fault, of course, lies outside of Washington. Hostility to Western goals appears potent among militants, and the international will to stand up to evil regimes has been appallingly weak at times.

But success in the war on terrorism and in promoting democratic reform in the Middle East will depend on whether Bush and his diplomats can recruit more long-term allies.


The Los Angeles Times has a worthless, content-free series of empty sentences.

The Denver Post says something trite, then quotes President Bush for a patriotic finale.

The world is a much different place than it was when we awoke that morning, that new date that will live in infamy. So much has changed in America since Sept. 11, 2001, yet so much still needs to change. . .

The war on terror, as he said, will be long and will require patience. Today, we need to remind ourselves of that as we pause to remember the thousands of innocents who lost their lives two years ago.

Remembering them, and strengthening our resolve as a nation, is what today should be about.

"Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America," President Bush said as the sun was setting on Sept. 11, 2001. "These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve."

We must never forget.


The Los Angeles Daily News says in our increasing comfort, there's also a decreasing sensitivity to the horrors of that day when terrorists declared war on our country, a war that rages on. . .

And we must strengthen our own resolve to stand up to terror and stand for the ideals of America, every individual's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.



  posted by AVS @ 11.9.03



 
Boston.com is rotating a really breathtaking series of photos of New York City on this anniversary of Sept. 11. Interestingly, The New York Times is not.

  posted by AVS @ 11.9.03



 
God Switches Sides
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley claimed that God wanted him to raise taxes to solve Alabama's budget crisis. The voters said otherwise, by a 2-1 margin. Link from Regionsofmind.

  posted by AVS @ 10.9.03


10.9.03  

 
John Edwards got a significant boost today when members of the Service Employees International Union voted him among their three favorite Democratic presidential candidates. Now maybe he can pull above 5 percent in New Hampshire.

  posted by AVS @ 10.9.03



 
AAA Settles
AAA settled the lawsuit alleging that it was responsible for the rape and murder of a woman who got a ride home with a stranger after the tow truck driver took her car. The lawyers win another one.

  posted by AVS @ 10.9.03



 
In England, they have serious national conversations about the quality of instruction at the nation's universities. The very existence of Media Studies courses sparks a national debate. But in the United States, we have Media Studies and Queer Studies and even worse nonsense, and no one bats an eye.

  posted by AVS @ 10.9.03



 
AAA's Responsibiities
The family of a Massachusetts woman who was murdered by a man who told her he would driver her home after her car broke down has sued AAA for failing to rescue her from a dangerous situation.

The story goes like this: Woman's car breaks down. A stranger comes to her aid and offers to let her use his cell phone. She calls AAA (either from his phone or before, the story doesn't say). The tow truck driver arrives but says it'll be a few hours before he can tow her car to Boston. He eventually tows it to another location. She NEVER ASKS THE TOW TRUCK DRIVER FOR A RIDE. After he leaves, she gets a ride with the stranger, who rapes and murders her.

The woman's family sues AAA, saying it was responsible for getting her out of a dangerous situation. But the tow truck driver testifies that the woman was in a populated area close to a restaurant, gas station, and highway, and several people, including her murderer, appeared to be helping her. And, again, she never asked the driver to take her somewhere else.

When you pay for AAA service, you pay for a lot of things. The ability of a tow truck driver to sense murderous intentions in someone who is assisting you and to act on that extrasensory ability by whisking you to safety is not a benefit of membership.



  posted by AVS @ 9.9.03


9.9.03  
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